Abstract

http://ssrn.com/abstract=1879558
 
 

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Predicting Premeditation: Future Behavior is Seen as More Intentional than Past Behavior


Zachary C. Burns


University of Chicago - Booth School of Business

Eugene M. Caruso


University of Chicago - Booth School of Business

Daniel M. Bartels


University of Chicago - Booth School of Business

July 5, 2011


Abstract:     
People‟s intuitions about the underlying causes of past and future actions might not be the same. In three studies, we demonstrate that people judge the same behavior as more intentional when it will be performed in the future than when it has been performed in the past. We found this temporal asymmetry in perceptions of both the strength of an individual‟s intention and the overall prevalence of intentional behavior in a population. Because of its heightened intentionality, people thought the same transgression deserved more severe punishment when it would occur in the future than when it did occur in the past. The difference in judgments of both intentionality and punishment were partly explained by the stronger emotional reactions that were elicited in response to future actions than past actions. We consider the implications of this temporal asymmetry for legal decision making and theories of attribution more generally.

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Date posted: July 19, 2011  

Suggested Citation

Burns, Zachary C. and Caruso, Eugene M. and Bartels, Daniel M., Predicting Premeditation: Future Behavior is Seen as More Intentional than Past Behavior (July 5, 2011). Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1879558 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1879558

Contact Information

Zachary C. Burns (Contact Author)
University of Chicago - Booth School of Business ( email )
5807 S. Woodlawn Avenue
Chicago, IL 60637
United States
Eugene M. Caruso
University of Chicago - Booth School of Business ( email )
5807 South Woodlawn Avenue
Chicago, IL 60637
United States
Daniel M. Bartels
University of Chicago - Booth School of Business ( email )
5807 S. Woodlawn Avenue
Chicago, IL 60637
United States
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